Sharing Experiences Raising Organic Chickens, Quail & Pigeons


Organically raised chickens, quail, fantail pigeons and the occasional guest poultry all living in 1000m2 of organic forest garden. The following articles attempt to look at the poultry's view of life in the backyard and to observe and share how they thrive and survive in the environment we created for them. On the occasions when I need to intervene, I do so with a holistic approach to the bird as an individual and also to infer from the situation what this tells me about the general health, happiness and dynamics of the flock. I look at stress management and show how to use nutrition and phytotherapy for both prevention and cure of various conditions. These articles are on-going, they occur either as they happen to us or because someone has asked me for help with their birds and thus to share what I have learned from the experience.


The Cochin Craze - A Story of Addiction

Small chick. Big backstory! These fluffy bundles, which I have been raising for the past ten years have a unique and fascinatingly terrible history, involving bloody wars, tea, silver and above all opium. The first article looks into how the  Cochin arrived in the West and created the chicken version of Tulip Mania...read more



Polish frizzled rooster/cockerel chamois white-lacedHow to care for and keep organic poultry - happy. 

This is Diavolo, he's a Crested Polish Frizzle and he knows more about what he should and shouldn't be eating than any of us ever will...read more

Organic poultry in a forest gardenChoosing chickens for a garden,  Smallholding or homestead 

Thumbing through old horticultural magazines of the mid 1800s one finds included in their columns information on poultry, pigeons and bees. The editorial carries special features on...read more

Polish Chamois Rooster in a forest gardenCreating a food forest garden for ourselves, poultry, wildlife and planet - Part One

Forest gardening fulfils that yearning for freedom and symbolic break-out.. a proactive outcome of taking personal control ...read more

Polish chamois white laced hen in an organic apple orchard

Creating a food forest garden - Part Two - Bare roots, maximum plantings minimum costs.

Starting from scratch and how to build up the canopy and sub-canopy on a budget...read more
Chickens roosting in trees in an organic forest garden

Hens putting themselves to bed in a forest garden .

Don't worry about electronic hen house doors, just plant a tree...read more
Ardenner silver duckwing hen very broody

Keeping chickens in a forest garden, dynamics, dominance and role-play

The case of the crowing hen
...read more
Ardenner hen and rooster sunbathing together

Forest garden, Monogamy, family groups, power struggles & gangs

another interesting facet of forest garden poultry is a tendency towards monogamy...read more
Ardenner hens and Wyandotte cross sunbathing

Forest garden, dominance, omnipotence, single sex flocks, learned helplessness

Super dominance is something I call a hen or cockerel when they take over the role of both dominant hen and dominant cockerel...read more
Polish black-laced golden bantam hen

If I could talk to the (animals) birds

Looking at the history and research behind bird communication, marking the start of a series of articles sharing ideas on how talking helps...read more

If I could talk to the (animals) birds Part 2

Mother hens communicating distress, distrust and urgency and how understanding language helps solve potential problems. Plus the amazing pigeons...read more

4 Homemade Gothic Vampyre Costumes for Chickens

Although I am serious about organic agriculture and sharing ideas about forest garden poultry, most of what we do here is a lot of fun...read more 

Forest Garden Poultry - Symbiosis. Putting the Jungle Back in the Fowl

The first part of a series in which I compare actual field studies on wild Jungle Fowl behaviours and see how my Forest Garden Flock compare...read more 

Forest Garden Poultry - Food. Putting the Jungle Back in the Fowl 2

In which I share and discuss comparisons between Jungle fowl diets, including favourite foods and that of our forest garden flock...read more 


How to sprout grain for your poultry

Sprouting grain and pulses for your flock, where, why, how, what and when?

I'm not a great fan of cultivated grain, we like to limit it in our own diet so why not in our poultry's. If you read the average bag of even organic pelleted food...read more
Providing forage for poultry - pastured chickens

Providing Forage for Organic Poultry Part 1

Going backwards to go forward - If you are setting up a forest garden  to run your poultry through it, you are probably going to be short of certain wild pasture elements...read more
Polish Hens (Tolbunt and Chamois) foraging for food in aForest garden

Providing Forage for Organic Poultry Part 2

Continuing an in-depth look into forage and discussing the what, when, where from and why...read more
Landgirls feeding tablescraps to pastured poultry  

Food for Free. Fabulous Forage Part 1 Grass

For centuries farmers and homesteaders raised poultry on a forage-based diet supplemented only by a handful of grain and the occasional..read more
Feeding chickweed to hens

Food for Free. Fabulous Forage Part 2 Chickweed

Stellaria media an incredible food and medicinal for poultry, an in-depth look at this ubiquitous weed..read more
Tree fodder - leaves as food for organic poultry

Food for Free. Fabulous Forage Part 3 Tree Fodder & Tree Hay

The idea of tree fodder is inextricably linked with the changing landscape, the full domestication of animals, the concept of farming and the clearance of the forests... read more
Growing roses in a forest garden to feed poultry 

Food for Free. Fabulous Forage Part 4 Roses for Food & Forest

For me the rose is the quintessential forest garden plant, from canopy to ground cover there are so many to choose from ... read more

Food for Free. Fabulous Forage Part 5 Rose Petals

One of the main roses I use for both cooking, medicinals and which my hens very much enjoy is, not surprisingly, rosa gallica Officinalis, or The Apothecary Rose... read more


Organic quail chick and mother henWhy and how? Getting started.

I had read that for centuries in Japan and China quail eggs had been used in  the treatment of various respiratory diseases and allergies.  Finding no organic eggs on the market, I decided to raise them myself...read more

Organic quail chicks with mother Ardenner bantam

Taking you through the first few days.

Polly and the quail at three days old and already something of a handful! I kept them in the nest for the first three days, letting them gain in strength...read more

Organic quail chick and hen free-rangingHow your hen can bring out the best in baby quail.

Years of selective breeding have not only bred the broodiness out of domesticated quail but also their ability to identify and seek out their own food. read more

A very broody hen displayingUnderstanding broodiness in hens. How  this helps in raising quail

The idea of 'a' broody hen is a simplified human interpretation of what is a complex and recurring phase in a bird's life. ...read more
Raising quails with a mother hen

Choosing the right Mother Hen

Raising quail with a hen is a three way process, there has to be understanding and adaptability from both mother and chick(s) but there also has to be...read more

My coturnix quail is broody and sitting eggsOne of my quail has gone broody and is sitting eggs.

So here I am with my design for a secure quail breeding area still in the workshop and Ginger already sitting and on her 6th day of incubation...read more

Organically raised quail eggs - my quail is sittingOne of my quail has gone broody and is sitting eggs - Update.

I should have known nothing is ever simple with quail but it certainly is exciting...read more

My coturnix quail is nesting and sitting her own eggsOne of my quail has gone broody  - Update 2.

Everything seemed to be going well, Ginger, our golden coturnix quail had been sitting her second nest very seriously now for 14 days ...read more

My coturnix quail and her chickMy quail is raising her own chicks  - Update 3.

I was amazed by the way Ginger had accepted the quail chicks and they had instantly warmed to her...read more

Quail chick with riboflavin deficiency - curled toe paralysisIdentification of riboflavin deficiency in purchased quail and hatching eggs

Quail have a high basal metabolic rate and as such their problems with nutrition are dramatically and rapidly revealed...read more

Quail chick being treated for riboflavin deficiencyCure curled toe paralysis (riboflavin deficiency)

For my 'field study', I am using the example of quail chicks, from non-organic purchased hatching eggs because this is the area in which, sadly I have a great deal of experience ..read more

quail eggs medicinal usesA comprehensive guide into the history & use of quail eggs in medicine Part 1

How we cured Andy's hay fever and eczema with a dip into Ancient Egypt and 60's France...read more

quail eggs for allergies and diseasesA comprehensive guide into the history & use of quail eggs in medicine  Part 2

Now we eat quail eggs for pleasure..here I look in depth at the clinical trials in the 1960s and the posology used then and by us...read more

Tips and strategies for raising natural organic quail chicks

I hadn't really intended that 'Snow Kitten' should raise quail but she was broody and I'm always wanting to spread the word on cage-free quail. In fact it caused quite a stir and eve...read more

Encouraging Pair-bonding, Nesting and Broodiness in Coturnix Quail

I'm sharing the setting up of a safe quail breeding area. Andy and I created this last year but the broody quail beat us to it...read more

The Colours of Coturnix Quail - Intro & Brown

In the pages of this site, I write mostly on practical issues and as 'The Holistic Hen', I do always hope that I am looking at the whole bird. Thus plumage colour is important ....read more

The Colours of Coturnix Quail 2 - Gold

The controversial Golden quail is there just one or more and what's with the yellow lethal allele? That and more discussed here....read more


raising chicks in an organic food forest

Laying and nesting away. How to move hen, eggs and chicks

Hatching chicks is an amazing experience and....an event which is the harbinger of Spring in our little smallholding/homestead...read more

Coping with protracted hatching and large clutches, chicks, ducks and quail

When you find your broody, particularly on a large nest, consider the possibility that these are not all her own eggs and that they were not all laid at the same time...read more

How to cope with chicks in cold weather. Part 1

With the weather being so capricious at the moment, the hens are risking late hatches, so I'm sharing some of the strategies I use to get the best outcome for the chicks and Mother...read more

How to cope with chicks in cold weather. Part 2

Including provision for vitamin D3 and B12 and the amino acids essential for feather growth, physical, nervous and immune system support...read more

How to cope with chicks in cold weather. Part 3

Greenhouses as an ideal solution for raising chicks in the cold wet months and at how to make sure of optimum nutrient provision...read more

Broody adopts chicks in cold weather.

Some times people comment in surprise on my films that a hen will raise anything but her own eggs but this is only half the story...read more

The case of the unhatchable egg 

How importance is exact temperature in hatching an egg? A look at broodiness, Aesop and the marvellous surprises nature has in store...read more


What to do when a duck deserts on day of hatch

One of the unwritten rules of reciprocal homesteading is that animals or birds always choose the time you are away to have a crisis! read more

Getting hen hatched ducklings accepted by their aggressive biological mother

There is no written rule in my experience, as to time limits on introducing chicks, ducks, goslings, quail or baby pigeons to a mother bird... read more


When? Why? Whom? Identification, causes and those most at risk

Stress comes for all sorts of reasons to an organic flock and if not treated within 24 hours, if it's a bad attack, it can be fatal...read more

Emergency Treatment, Follow-ups and Keeping Calm

The great thing about this emergency treatment is that it is concocted from simple foodstuffs you probably have to hand in your kitchen cupboards...read more

Prevention & Cure - Power Games & Group Dynamics

Exploring the problem of stress triggers from dominant birds. This includes general hen house arguments, from romance to food fights read more

Prevention & Cure - Methionine provision, Aggression & Family feuds

Continuing the exploration of the problem of stress triggers  read more

Practical Prevention & Cure - Cold Stress

Although this might seem to be some chichi fashion statement, the idea of creating a coat for your chicken, matching or not, is deadly serious...  read more


Our Silver Sebright and Medicine Chest

Introduction to our  'Alternative' Medicine Chest/ First Aid Kit

When you first start out to be organic everything can be fine until you are faced with an emergency or an illness... read more

Using therapeutic clay on a deep infected wound

Montmorillonite or (French Green) clay is one of the most amazing natural minerals and around the World there are similar therapeutic-grade clays for you to use, wherever you may live...read more

Treating wounds, cuts and abrasions - first aid for organic poultry

As I had to deal with the aftermath of a cock fight today, I thought I'd share the treatment...read more


Treating an injured quail Nutritional support for sprains, strains and nerve damage

Here's Drusilla she is one of my coturnix quail and over the past few days she has started to limp, holding up her foot and hopping...read more

Treating inflammation and infection with cabbage poultices

Recently I had occasion to use this poultice on two cases simultaneously, my quail and my neighbour's hen's suspected bumblefoot.. ...read more

Treating a nasty head wound and shock

Our poor quail, Nuggets with a horrible injury to her head and eyes (Happy ending!) ...read more

Using therapeutic clay & essential oils on a serious cockerel-inflicted wound

Every year we look after our neighbours' animals and birds when they go on holiday. As most of these are not used to being handled...read more



(Please note I deal with these and post them as I come across them in my flock but I do have knowledge of treating other problems so if you need help please ask.)

Treating eye problems & facial swelling. Assessment-Observations-Techniques.

This is Clementina, she has a problem with swelling around both eyes and inflammation  of the third eyelid...read more

Treating eye Problems & facial swelling. Herbal Infusions-Compresses-Eye Baths

Sharing two home-made infusions for the treatment of eyes. They are both edible so there is no problem if your bird drinks them...read more

Common Poultry Lice  identification, life cycle and major infestation periods

Menacanthus stramineusare ectoparasites, thus living on the skin...with a short life span, which in adult form, is from 2 to 3 weeks read more

Common Poultry Lice - Treatment and Prevention

When you apply any sort of viscous carrier oil to a louse, the spiracles, pores through which it breathes, become blocked, however, read more

Ticks - Identification, life cycle and lifestyle 

I have to say right from the start the more I read about ticks the more confused I get. There is a volume of information floating about...read more

Ticks - Treatment and Removal from a pigeon's face

The idea of using Tea Tree Essential oil is because it has anaesthetic, antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, antimicrobial properties...read more

Scaly Leg and Face Mite Infestations Why They Happen & What To Do Part 1

I look at the correlation between specific deficiency and parasitisation because it is fundamental to everything I believe is wrong...read more

Scaly Leg Mite Infestations What To Do Part 2

I look at the options both medicinal and nutritional for dealing with this microscopic mite ...read more

Scaly  Face Mite Infestations Treatment Part 3

If you haven't this miraculous substance already in your pantry then I advise you to get some, both for your own and your poultry's health...read more




Polish Chickens Chamois and Golden Frizzled and Non-Frizzled.

Polish Crested - Beauty, Brains and Rusticity.

It's hard to believe that a creature which looks so frou-frou can be anything but ornamental and therefore totally unsuited to a backyard or smallholding but in the following article...read more

Frizzles for a Forest Garden Part 1

In some countries, such as here in France, Frizzles are often viewed as an individual breed rather than a form of feather mutation, which can occur across several races...read more

Frizzles for a Forest Garden 2 Behaviour & Emotions

Spike is a fine example of a Polish Frizzle and has also something which I believe  well illustrates the dilemma faced by the Frizzled bird...read more

The Cochin Craze - A Story of Addiction

These fluffy bundles, which I have been raising for ten years have a unique and fascinatingly terrible history, involving bloody wars, tea, silver and above all opium. A three part article on  the chicken version of Tulip Mania and my own Cochin..read more

The Cochin Craze 2. From Craze to Mania

'The introduction of these fowls...was a memorable event in the history of poultry; since they undoubtedly awakened a startling "mania" which was, calmly considered, one of the most curious phenomena of the nineteenth century'...read more


Free-ranging fantails in a forest garden

There is nothing quite as beautiful as fantails flying in the open skies. They have a poetry of their own read more 

Introduction to hand-feeding pigeons in an emergency or otherwise - Why, What & When

This is a several-part post dealing with how to cope with feeding baby and juvenile pigeons in a variety of circumstances. This will include domesticated pigeons and those found abandoned in the wild.read more